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How to Start a Campfire when Lost in the Woods Without Matches

Becoming lost in the woods is frightening. Those who have wandered from the campfire know the feeling of uncertainty that comes when lost in the woods. Modern methods and materials to start a campfire are not available. Learning to start a campfire without matches or other conveniences can make the experience of being lost in the woods easier to bear. These are all simple methods to start a campfire without matches when lost in the woods that I learned as a Girl Scout.


Start a campfire with reflected light from glasses

We all know that a magnifying glass makes a fine tool to start a campfire with. Unfortunately a magnifying glass is not always handy when lost in the woods. Try using prescription glasses, or any other piece of glass to start a campfire without matches. This is done by focusing light through the glass onto dry tinder such as leaves or wood shavings.

Start a campfire with ice

Being lost in the woods in the winter increases survival difficulty. Cold temperatures necessitate the ability to start a campfire without matches. Consider forming a lens with a block of ice. Clear ice makes a fire starting lens as effective as glass. Use compacted snow or freeze ice in a container and shape into a lens to start a campfire without matches.

Start a campfire with a soda can

Polish the bottom of an aluminum can or other reflective object until it shines. Use the shiny object to reflect a concentrated ray of light onto some tinder. Some people recommend a chocolate bar as a polishing agent. Survival packs for those lost in the woods often contain this treat. Toothpaste is also an effective polish for this fire starting technique.

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Start a campfire with a pocket knife and a piece of quartz

Striking a pocket knife repeatedly on a piece of quartz to start a campfire is difficult but not impossible. When lost in the woods at night there’s no sun to start a campfire with. Working above the tinder pile and striking toward the ground will cause sparks to fly, igniting the tinder. Be sure to have plenty of tinder and other wood handy to keep this campfire going.

Start a campfire with a stick

This is a difficult, yet reliable method to start a campfire when lost in the woods without matches. You’ll need a sturdy but thin stick, a flat piece of wood with a hole carved into it and some dry tinder and other fire wood. Kneel on the forest floor. Tilt the flat wood very slightly, bracing it against your knees. Place the tinder on the forest floor in front of the flat wood.

Insert the stick into the hole on the flat wood. Place a hand on each side of the stick, as if you were praying. Move the palms back and forth to create friction between the stick and the flat board. Sparks created should roll down the board, igniting the tinder at the bottom. This method of starting a fire without matches takes time and patience.

Please note: Methods such as flint were not mentioned as these materials may not be readily available when lost in the woods.

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